Sunday, September 28, 2008

10 Effective Ways to Interval Train

Interval training is superior to steady state cardio for fat loss, yet I see people constantly doing steady state stuff when the goal is fat loss. Though I'm sure the reason is because it's easy, it isn't very efficient because you can get a superior workout in less time with interval training. Interval training is alternating a period of work with a period of rest. You could start with a 30-90 work to rest split where you would work for 30 seconds and then rest for 90 seconds and repeat a desired number of times (somewhere between 7 - 10).

When you get bored and are willing to venture out I'd suggest finding a few ways to do your intervals so you keep your body guess, and keep boredom at bay. Here are some of my favorite methods of interval training:

1. Sprints - This is probably the interval training method I use the most. I find some open space at a park and just do some timed sets of high speed running followed by a slow walk. Keep in mind if you are just starting out this would probably be considered "advanced" and you should consider trying a more beginner type interval to start with like bike sprints. To change things up you can sprint up a hill and walk down it or sprint the base paths at a local field.

2. Stair Climbs - Spending some time in a hotel with a lot of floors, or live in a complex with a decent stairwell, then stair climbs can be your friend. There is no need for a treadmill when you have a few sets of stairs because you can get a killer workout in. The method I like is sprinting one flight, walking down and then sprinting 2 flights, and walking down and see how many sprints you get in before you have to quit.

3. Bike Sprints - This is great for beginners because it is low impact. Just be sure to turn up the resistance on your sprints and then take it way down when you go for your rest.

4. Tire Flips - These have become a new favorite of mine since my gym has a varied set of tractor tires. You basically get your heart rate going by flipping this massive tire over for a timed set and then resting. It's pretty cool because it's a total body movement trying to get flip these giant tires.

5. Farmers Walks - These will really test your grip strength. Basically you grab two farmers handles and load em up with weight and walk a set distance. Alternatively you can use a trap bar, lift and start walking.

6. Sledgehammer Training - A heavy sledgehammer is a great upper body interval training method. Slamming the sledgehammer over and over into a tire seems to be the most popular way to do it.

7. Sled Drags - Take a sled, load it up with some weight and get ready to move. These are pretty brutal as it's again total body but really pushes your limits. If you aren't seeing stars after a few sets of these then you probably aren't working hard enough. You probably want to try and work hard enough that you feel a little woozy but you don't want to work so hard you throw up your lunch.

8. Slideboard - Granted this is probably one of the more expensive ways to interval train but it's a great way to get a workout indoors and you can usually just tuck this away under a bed. I was fortunate that Cressey Performance had one of these bad boys (two in fact).

9. Med Ball Circuit - Throwing a med ball around all different kinds of ways can really get you firing on all cylinders and breaking out a sweat.

10. Body Weight Circuits - Mixing up a few exercises and creating a circuit can be a lot of fun and can help you out in a pinch when a gym isn't available. You can do a simple circuit of lunges, push ups, squats (make it tougher with single leg squats), rows. Do 15 - 2o reps of each exercise in a series with no rest. Then take a 60-120sec rest and repeat a couple more times. If this doesn't break a sweat then you might consider adding in some tougher exercises.

Just a couple interval training methods

If any of these methods you scoff at because you feel like they would be too easy you simply aren't thinking outside of the box. Most of these methods you can make more difficult through a variety of ways. You could add a weighted vest for a number of these, or for example carry a light set of dumbbells on your stair sprints. You can also manipulate the working set time and rest time. Longer working sets with shorter rest times are obviously going to be more difficult. Be creative and don't be afraid to mix things up.

How do you do your intervals? Let us know by leaving a comment below!

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